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The Reign of Elizabeth. (Continued) page 3

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Henry of France not only thus honourably exerted himself to save the unfortunate Queen of Scots, though a princess of a house that he detested - that of Guise - but he endeavoured to stimulate her unworthy son, King James, to the rescue. He assured him that if he allowed his mother's life to be thus taken, it would draw upon him the most terrible reproaches, and that, moreover, her execution would exclude him from, the English throne. This alarmed James, and he sent to the English Court Robert Keith, a young man of no weight, but who was a pensionary of Elizabeth, like James himself. This did not escape the notice of the public, who concluded that James cared nothing about the fate of his mother whilst ho could send such a man, at the time that the chief nobility of Scotland were in a state of high indignation Hi the idea of a Queen of Scotland being treated like a subject, and a criminal subject, of the Queen of England. Many of the chief nobility offered to go and put in the king's protest at their own cost; yet James, whoso resident ambassador at the English Court was the notorious Archibald Douglas, who had been one of the most active of his father's murderers, now added to the wonder by sending that insignificant and bribed emissary. It was proposed to send Francis Stuart, the new Earl of Both well, a nephew of Mary, who was bold and outspoken, but Archibald Douglas managed to prevent that. Courcelles, the present French ambassador, wrote to Henry III., that he augured little from James's appointment of his agents; and truly when Keith appeared before Elizabeth and delivered a remonstrance from James, Elizabeth went into a fury that terrified both of her pensioners, James and his man Keith.

The pusillanimous monarch, on receiving the account of Elizabeth's anger, made haste to write a most humble apology, and to send two other envoys who might be more acceptable to the English queen. These were Sir Robert Melville, and Mar, the master of Gray. Melville was a respectable man, but Gray had already betrayed the interests of Mary to the English Court, and he had written before he set out from Scotland that she should be quietly removed by poison, and on arriving he renewed the bait by whispering in the ear of Elizabeth that "the dead cannot bite." Another of his agents, Stuart, assured her that James had only sent them merely to save appearances, and that, whatever he might pretend, he would be easily pacified by a present of dogs or deer.

Thus, with the exception of Melville, James's ambassadors were really the paid tools of Elizabeth, like himself, and came only to sell the life of his mother. Melville endeavoured to persuade the queen to allow Mary to be sent to Scotland, engaging for the king that ho would keep her safe. On this Elizabeth turned to Leicester, and openly expressed the utmost contempt for James and his proposals. Gray, who appeared to fulfil his commission whilst he has really bargaining for advantages to himself, now suggested that Mary was willing to resign all her rights m favour of her son, on which Leicester suggested that this merely meant that James should be put in his mother's place in regard to the succession to the English crown. This sore point of the succession drove Elizabeth into one of her furies, and she exclaimed, "Ha! is that your meaning? then I put myself in a worse case than Before. That wore to cut my own throat, and for a duchy or an earldom to yourself, you, or such as you, would cause some of your desperate knaves to kill me. No. ho shall never be in that place."

Gray remarked that it was true that James must succeed, in case of his mother's death, to all her claims, and therefore it appeared useless to execute Mary. This only doubled Elizabeth's wrath, and she retired in fury. Gray had made a public advocacy of the queen, which ho was well aware would only hasten her fate; but honest Me - ville followed Elizabeth, and entreated her with much feeling to delay her execution; but the exasperated woman only exclaimed, "No! not for an hour I" and the door was closed behind her.

James, on learning these particulars, appeared alarmed into anxiety. He wrote with ills own hand to Gray, commanding him to speak out plainly and exert himself to save his mother. But Walsingham, who knew the true chord in James's heart to appeal to, wrote to hi in expressing his surprise at his endeavouring to save a mother who had destroyed his father, never had been a, mother to him, and who, if she succeeded in escaping, could only exclude him from the throne, and put down the Reformed Church. James at once, therefore, obeyed Walsingham's hint, whilst he appeared to consult hi dignity, lie recalled his ambassadors, and took the field fur the rescue of his mother, not at the head of an army, but by enjoining the Presbyterian clergy to pray for her, an office which he must have been well aware they would never consent to, on behalf of a queen whom they regarded as the enemy of the Church.

Elizabeth had now thrown the responsibility of Mary's death on the Council, the Parliament, and the people. and bullied the Kings of France and Scotland into silence. What yet restrained her from executing the Queen of Scots? She had to sign the death-warrant, and she must throw even that on some other party too. The mode in which she went about this is, perhaps, more extraordinary than all the rest. She went about continually muttering to herself, "Aut for aid feri:ne feriare feri" (Either endure or strike: strike lest thou be stricken). Instead of proceeding to sign the death-warrant and let the execution take its course, she had it again debated in the Council whether it were not better to take her oil by poison. Walsingham, who saw that the responsibility would be certainly thrown on somebody near the queen, got away from Court; and the-warrant; drawn up by Burleigh, was handed by him to Davison, the queen's secretary, to got it engrossed and presented to the queen for signature. When he did this, she bade him keep it awhile, and it lay in his hands for five or six weeks. But both Leicester and Burleigh were impatient for its execution; and directly after the departure of James's ambassadors in February, he was ordered to present it; and then Elizabeth signed it, bidding him take it to the great seal, "and trouble her no more with it." So far from appearing impressed with the seriousness of the act she had performed, she was quite jocose, telling Davison that ho might call on Walsingham, who was sick, and show it to him thus signed, which, she said ironically, she feared would kill him outright. Then, as if suddenly recollecting herself, she said, "Surely Pallet and Drury might ease me of this burden. Do you and Walsingham sound their dispositions." Burleigh and Leicester, to whom Davison showed the warrant, urged him. to send it to Fotheringay without a moment's delay; but Davison had a feeling that he certainly should get into trouble if he did so. He therefore went on to Walsingham, and after showing him the warrant, they then and there made a rough draft of a letter to Sir Amyas Paulet and Sir Drew Drury, Mary's additional keeper, proposing private assassination, as the queen requested. Whilst Walsingham made a fair copy, Davison went to the lord chancellor and got the great seal affixed to the warrant. On his return to Walsingham, the notable letter urging the murder of the prisoner was ready, and they sent it forthwith. This letter was duly entered by Walsingham in his letter-book, and remains as an everlasting testimony of his and his mistress's infamy. Had he not himself preserved it, it would never have been known, It has been often published. It informed Paulet and Drury that the queen had of late noticed a great lack of zeal in them, and wondered that, without any one moving them, to it, they had not found out some way to rid her of the Queen of Scots. It told them that for their own safeties, the public good, the prosperity of religion, they had ample warrant for the deed. That the satisfaction of their consciences towards God, and their reputation in the world as men who had sworn the oath of association, depended upon it: and, therefore, she took it very unkind that they cast the burden upon her, knowing how much she disliked to shed blood, especially the blood of one so near.

Davison the next day had confirmation doubly strong that she was watching to entrap him in the matter. She asked him if the warrant had passed the great seal. He said it had; on which she immediately said, "Why such haste?" He inquired whether, then, she did not wish the affair to proceed. She replied, certainly; but that she thought it might be better managed, as the execution of the warrant threw the whole burden upon her. Davison said he did not know who else could bear it, as her laws made it murder to destroy the meanest subject without her warrant. At this her patience appeared exhausted, and she exclaimed, Oh, if she had but two such subjects as Morton and Archibald Douglas

Davison was terrified at the gulf on the edge of which he saw himself standing, with the queen ready and longing to drag him in. He went to Hatton, and told him that though he had her orders to send off the warrant to Fotheringay at once, he would not do it of himself. They therefore went together to Burleigh, who coincided with them in the demand for caution. He therefore summoned the Council the next morning, and it was there unanimously agreed, as the queen had discharged her duty, to do theirs, and to proceed on joint responsibility. That very morning, on his waiting on Elizabeth, she told him a dream she had had the preceding night, in which she had severely punished him as the cause of the death of the Scottish queen. Though she appeared to jest as she said it, there was something in the thing which made the secretary shudder with an ominous sensation. That day, being the 4th of February, the reply of Paulet reached him, and he went with it to the queen. This old Puritan officer of Elizabeth would have delighted to witness the legal execution of Mary, whom he hated for her religion and for the many sharp reproofs which the strictness of his gaolership had drawn from her; but he recoiled from the commission of murder. He lamented, he said, in bitterness of soul, that he had lived to see the day when he was required by his sovereign to do a deed abhorrent to God and the laws. His life, his property, he said, were at her majesty's command; she might take them to-morrow if she pleased; but God forbid that he should make so foul a shipwreck of his conscience, or leave so great a blot on his name, as to shed blood without law or warrant.

On hearing this letter the queen broke out into a violent rage, and forgetting in a moment all the fine promises which she had so lately made to Paulet, all the rewards which her profound gratitude for the secure keeping of Mary were to draw from her, she called him, "a precise and dainty fellow," and declared that she could point to others who would do that, or greater things for her sake, naming expressly a man of the name of Wingfield. Davison again dared to suggest that if Paulet put Mary to death without a warrant, she would have to avow that it was by her order, in which case the guilt and disgrace would be hers; if she did not, she would have ruined her faithful servant. This language was not such as suited the impetuous queen; she abruptly rose and left him.

But on the 7th of February she called for him, and told him of the dangers with which she was surrounded on account of the Scottish queen; for, in fact, all sorts of rumours of invasion by the Duke of Guise, of the burning of London, and murder of the queen, were purposely propagated, in order to make the populace frantic for Mary's death. Elizabeth, therefore, declared that it was high time that the warrant was executed, and bade Davison, with a great oath, to write a sharp letter to Paulet ordering him to be quick. Davison, who knew that the warrant was gone, avoided the command by saying he did not think it necessary, but she repeated that Paulet would expect it, and whilst so saying, one of her ladies came to ask what she would have for dinner; she rosa and went out with her, and her unfortunate secretary saw her no more.

That very day the order for Mary's death reached Fotheringay, and was probably being announced to her at the moment that Elizabeth was urging its dispatch to Davison. The Earl of Shrewsbury, who had guarded her so many years, as earl marshal, had now the painful office of carrying into effect her execution. There had been for some time a growing feeling at Fotheringay that the last day of Mary was at hand, for there had been a remarkable coming and going of strangers. When Shrewsbury was announced, his office proclaimed the fatal secret. The Scottish queen rose from her bed, and was dressed to receive him, having seated herself at a small table with her servants disposed around her. The Earl of Shrewsbury entered, followed by the Earls of Kent, Cumberland, and Derby, as well as by the sheriff and several gentlemen of the county. Beale, the clerk of the Council, read the order for the execution, to which Mary listened with the utmost apparent equanimity. When it was finished she crossed herself, bade them welcome, and assured them that she had long waited for the day which had now arrived; that twenty years of miserable imprisonment had made her a burden to herself and useless to others; and that she could conceive no close of life so happy or so honourable as that of shedding her blood for her religion. She recited her injuries and the frauds and perjuries of her enemies, and then laying her hand on the Testament upon her table, called God to witness that she had never imagined, much less attempted, anything against the life of the Queen of England.

The Earl of Kent, who appears to have been a bigot and a churl of the rudest description, and whoso conduct throughout was brutal and unfeeling in the extreme, cried, "That book is a Popish Testament, and, of course, the oath is of no value." "It is a Catholic Testament," replied the queen, "and on that account I prize it the more; and therefore, according to your own reasoning, you ought to judge my oath the more satisfactory." But the Earl of Kent only bade her have done with her Papistical superstition, and attend to the spiritual services of the Dean of Peterborough, whom her Majesty had appointed to attend her. Mary declined the services of the dean, and requested to hare the aid of Le Preau, her almoner, the last indulgence which she had to ask from them. It was refused, on the plea that it was contrary to the law of God and of the land, and would endanger not only the souls but the lives of the commissioners. A long conversation followed this refusal, and Mary asked whether the foreign powers "had made no efforts in her behalf, and whether her only son had forgotten her; and finally, when she was to surfer, The Earl of Shrewsbury replied with much emotion," To-morrow morning, at eight o clock."

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